Howard “Gene” Taylor

North Atlanta High principal Howard Taylor on Sept. 13 announced his resignation.

A statement from Atlanta Public Schools says his last day at the school will be Dec. 1.

In a video released via the NAHS student newspaper, Taylor said his reason for leaving is strictly professional.

Board of Education Chairman Reuben McDaniel told Reporter Newspapers that Taylor is leaving the school take a new job but said he could not confirm where Taylor is going.

“Dr. Taylor left to take a position he felt was better for him,” McDaniel said. “He’s done a fine job.”

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Taylor will become the next principal of Berkmar High in Gwinnett County.

Here is a video statement from Taylor to NAHS students, provided by The Northerner, the NAHS newspaper:

School staff and students were notified of the resignation on Friday morning.

Taylor is the second principal to leave North Atlanta in two years. His predecessor, Mark MyGrant, retired last year but stayed on a few additional months while Atlanta Public School officials looked for his replacement. While staying on as interim last fall, MyGrant was removed from the school by APS officials along with his leadership team. It has nearly been one year since that incident, dubbed “Bloody Friday” by parents and students.

Many in the NAHS community were optimistic at the beginning of the year.

North Atlanta began its school year at its brand new campus on Northside Parkway and Taylor was well-regarded.

For many North Atlanta parents, Taylor’s announcement reopened old emotional wounds left by the removal of MyGrant and his leadership team.

Cynthia Briscoe Brown, a former president of North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools who is running against Chairman McDaniel in the Nov. 5 elections for Seat 8, At-Large, said, “We are shocked, heartbroken, saddened to see him go, particularly this far into a school year.”

“This means my child will have been through four principals in the last two years, maybe as many as five if we do an interim and a permanent between now and next May,” Brown said. “Dr. Taylor has been wonderful for our school. He came to us with great promise. He came to us under nearly impossible conditions and we really needed somebody with his drive and ambition to bring the community together.

“He did a particularly good job of helping us heal after the events of last year. We really needed somebody who would work with us and become part of the team so we would feel like we were a team again after being torn apart a year ago and he did a great job of that.”

Brown said parents are skeptical about the reasons for Taylor’s unexpected departure in light of what happened to MyGrant. Many parents believe politics, and not school performance, was the reason for MyGrant’s departure.

“I do not believe he was asked to resign, but if his job was made so difficult that he felt he had no other choice then we have a right to know that and we need to know why, and I think that’s probably where the damage is here,” Brown said. “The central office should not be meddling in the community. The central office should be asking what can we do for you not what can you do for us.”

Other school board candidates weighed in Friday afternoon.

“Like most parents, I’m surprised by Dr. Taylor’s resignation,” said Taryn Chilivis Bowman, candidate for the Board of Education, District 4 seat. “In his brief time at North Atlanta, he increased AP courses by 800 percent and the IB program by approximately 150 percent. He is good for North Atlanta, and I hope that he reconsiders his decision. Our students deserve good leadership that delivers a quality instructional program to all students.”

Incumbent District 4 Board of Education Member Nancy Meister sent the following letter to parents after today’s announcement:

Parents

Late last evening I received a phone call from Deputy Superintendent Steve Smith. He informed me that Dr. Taylor had (tendered) his resignation with the district. I immediately reached out to Dr. Taylor who was not available to speak. This morning I went to NAHS and met with Dr. Taylor to listen, learn and understand the situation. He was, as he always is, forthright and honest in our discussion.  Upon leaving I called Superintendent Davis as well as Deputy Superintendent Steve Smith to discuss the situation. I have asked them to meet with Dr. Taylor today to see what the system can do to change this situation if anything.

This is a great loss for our community and I am working to see what can be done to keep Dr. Taylor. As I find out more I will send out another email.

Nancy

Mark Riley, a candidate for Seat 8, At-Large, said, “I think this news is most unfortunate for the North Atlanta High School community. I have just seen a message from Dr. Taylor  to the parent community  but I  don’t understand what precipitated a mid-year departure which is difficult on teachers and students.  It is particularly disappointing because the school is just recovering from the poor treatment of the long serving talented leadership team by the District administration last Fall.  Parents deserve  a more thorough explanation as soon as possible. Of course all organizations experience leadership changes but unless Dr. Taylor is leaving for personal reasons,  the instability evidenced here appears to signify  the inability of the current  APS administration to attract and retain talented leaders.  We need stability!

“I have a core belief that we will attract and retain talented principals and see significant improvement in our schools when we empower them  to run the schools for which they are responsible without interference from bureaucrats far removed from the classroom. I suspect that if APS had this approach in place, we might not be losing Dr. Taylor.”

Tom Tidwell, another candidate running for Seat 8, At-Large, said the resignation shows a lack of transparency from APS.

“This is devastating news for parents in North Atlanta,” Tidwell said. “Dr. Taylor has made monumental efforts to make North Atlanta successful, a model for every school in the district. The details are as yet unknown, but there is much being unsaid and much to read between the lines. The only way to reestablish trust between APS and its stakeholders is open and honest communication. Now is the time for open and honest communication, not political spin to hide the truth. As a parent, I expect the current board chairman to do his job and inform us of what is happening and why. In recent candidate forums, I have heard him “talk” about openness and transparency. Now is the time for him to demonstrate his definition of those terms.”

Parents also began speaking out about Taylor’s resignation.

“We as parents are saddened by this, as we are adjusting to a new facility (and) what we considered to be a new path, with a new principal,” parent Helen Glover said. “Not knowing all the facts, we would like to think that this was Dr Taylor’s idea to resign. In light of everything that came down last (fall), with the APS removal of the NAHS staff however, many of us are a bit skeptical. We hope the truth will come out.”

Reporter Newspapers is continuing to update this story as new information becomes available. Keep checking Reporternewspapers.net.

UPDATE

Atlanta Public Schools sent the following statement to Reporter Newspapers:

Dr. Howard Taylor, principal of North Atlanta High School, announced his resignation today. Dr. Taylor will complete his duties with Atlanta Public Schools on December 1, 2013. The district is appreciative of Dr. Taylor’s leadership over the past year, particularly during the planning, relocation and opening of the new North Atlanta High School. We wish him well in his next assignment.

A transition plan has been established to ensure continued high-quality instruction for students, and the search for a new principal will begin immediately.